What Will Director Patty Jenkins Bring to [Wonder Woman](movie:45787)?
This week we were informed of Michelle MacLaren's exit as director of Wonder Woman's theatrical debut film. The news disappointed fans as MacLaren was a promising get by Warner Bros Studios. Although little is known about what her Wonder Woman movie would look like, MacLaren's pedigree with hit shows like Breaking Bad, [The Walking Dead](series:201193), and [Game of Thrones](movie:817617)made her a wonderful fit for the grit and fantasy involved in a story about a heroic Amazon princess.
In the blink of an online news cycle, WB remedied their loss by lassoing in Patty Jenkins who's no stranger to this rodeo. Jenkins was attached to direct Thor 2 for Marvel, but coincidentally left the project for the same reason behind MacLaren's departure off Wonder Woman - creative differences.
But what does this mean for WB and Wonder Woman? Is it a step up or down? The studio's quick reaction means development can continue leaving enough time to meet their 2017 release date. Beating Marvel to the punch with their female-led Captain Marvel is symbolically important for WB and DC. Yes, the Supergirl, Elektra, and Catwoman movies exist but they were horrible and failed to present the characters' appeal or do their story justice. Thankfully (unless you're tired of the genre), Hollywood is not shy of reboots and second chances. If any female superhero deserves a movie finally done right, it's the first and most iconic. Goddess knows it's been a long time coming.
Like with MacLaren, we don't know much about what Jenkins' vision of Wonder Woman may look like. Why are you overlooking their incredible talent, Hollywood! There's plenty of diverse talent out there and audiences are waiting to hear their voices. Thankfully, the good ole internet allowed me to muster up podcasts, videos, and articles on Jenkins so I could learn about her thoughts as an artist and director. Jenkins has many great qualities that would benefit a Wonder Woman film.
Obviously, she's a talented director but also a writer like most of the directors who have succeeded in the superhero genre. Like Brian Azzarello, the writer behind the latest iteration of Wonder Woman comics for DC, Jenkins started with crime stories. It's a solid foundation since in a way superhero stories are simply elaborate crime stories with larger than life heroes who save the day.
Superhero films have qualities from a variety of genres like comedy, sci-fi, action, and drama. Crime stories aren't the only material she has worked with. Jenkins directed for [Arrested Development](movie:38917)and [Entourage](movie:631753).
Jenkins' father was a fighter pilot and she grew up travelling from military bases all over the world. Steve Trevor, Wonder Woman's love interest, and his mother, Diana Trevor, are pilots. Wonder Woman too is a pilot who goes on world-wide adventures with her invisible jet. Jenkins has life experiences that would resonate with Wonder Woman's story.
When Jenkins took on Monster, she didn't dismiss Aileen Wuornos as a man-hating evil person. This is very in line with Wonder Woman's deep sense of empathy. Princess Diana will go out of her way to understand someone before labeling them a villain. While Superman tends to trust and Batman mistrusts, Wonder Woman finds truth about people with the help of her magic lasso. One of Wonder Woman's unique strengths as a superhero is her intimacy with people. She doesn't just rescue someone in danger or beat up a bad guy. She often helps people on a personal level because of her compassion. As a story-teller, Jenkins has shown the same attentiveness to the motivations and experiences underlying a person's character.
As a director, Jenkins is more interested in character, relationships, humanity, and drama than hardcore action. A Wonder Woman film shouldn't heavily rely on action although I'm sure producers are tempted in an effort to appeal to males. Ideally, it would be a character-driven drama with dynamic relationships. Action isn't the focus. It's the spice.
Monster has proven that Jenkins knows how to portray a variety of female characters along with handling very sensitive issues and experiences. If the story ever has to go some place unsettling, she can handle it respectfully.
I have read comments asking why WB and Marvel are seeking female talent for their female-led movies. Part of it is because the film industry sorely lacks attention to female talent. Another is that female perspectives are often either overlooked or packaged as a niche. A person's gender does inform their work on some level. Having female talent offers unique insights and experiences that affects the decision making in the creative process.
A Wonder Woman film should not be a gender-swapped 300, a movie built with masculine sensibilities. Nothing wrong with that at all; however, Wonder Woman is also about celebrating femininity. That doesn't have to be the hyper-femininity society likes to market. Everyone has masculine and feminine traits. Wonder Woman offers the opportunity to celebrate universal feminine values such as compassion, mercy, empathy, communication, endurance over power, skill over strength, relationships, nurture, warmth, etc.
Jenkins' writing and direction on Monster netted Charlize Theron a bevy of awards including a Golden Globe and an Oscar. Theron could play anyone from Queen Hippolyta to the villainous Cheetah and it would be absolutely amazing. Marketing would get a kick out of a Jenkins and Theron reunion. As a Theron fan, I would love the heck out it! Jenkins would also be able to attract other great actors and bring out the best from Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot.
A Wonder Woman movie has been in the works for a while and MacLaren's exit momentarily seemed like a huge loss. Good news is that there already has been positive buzz about Wonder Woman's appearance in next year's Batman v Superman. With Jenkins swooping in, I'm optimistic about WB's commitment to deliver Wonder Woman in 2017 and you should be too!